A couple of days ago I was in the city and decided to drop by a studio. This studio has been described as “the one down the alley and up the stairs” in numerous articles, although an old building it’s walls have seen it’s fair share of fashion shows, large scale campaign shoots, and a ton of fresh photographers and models working on their passion. It’s a multi-level building that offers different shooting experiences on each floor. The perfect place to create magic.
This post however is not about the studio, perhaps I’ll save that for another time. This post is all about the photography duo that I bumped into on the ground floor. Have you heard of Dhyan and Benjamin? If you haven’t don’t worry I hadn’t either. You may know them individually but they aren’t big on last names so I won’t mention them here.
These two are a photography team with a difference, something that I haven’t personally witnessed before. The shoot I walked in on was an editorial magazine submission, it’s not uncommon to see a large team involved in a shoot like this, you have your stylists, hair and makeup, a digital asset manager and a few assistants, but at the end of the day it all ends up coming down to the Photographer. This is where things are a little different here, there were two photographers calling the shots.
Dressed in the same suits, with the same hair (a point of contention between the two, which one of them has the best hair), Dhyan with a beard and Benjamin cleanly shaven because, well he can’t grow a beard according to Dhyan.
Where a decision would be easily made by a single photographer you have two throwing around their ideas. To make matters even more difficult they share the same camera. Does it work? Surprisingly well actually.
What I was expecting and what I saw were to completely different things. I expected to see some very heated discussions over what should and shouldn’t be done. Usually if two photographers are shooting the same model they would take it in turns each having their own ideas on how the models should be posed.
It was common to see either one of them grab the camera off the other and start shooting away. Not in a snappy way but in a “I’ve just had a great idea” type of way. While one was shooting the other would be calling out just as many instructions as the whoever had the camera. Strangely their ideas started to overlap in a way that they were able to build upon a pose and fix lighting issues at an extreme pace.
During look change I had the opportunity to chat to Dhyan and Benjamin, to find out how they went about planning this shoot and where they got their inspiration.
They were both very quick to state that the lighting references were from a Mario Sorentti campaign which he shot for Armani, the vibe, posing and styling were from various Calvin Klein campaigns.
Benjamin quickly piped in “but in most of our work influences come from photographers like Helmut Newton, Ellen Von Unwerth, Mert and Marcus, Irwin Penn, Miles Aldridge, Mikael Janson the list goes on but its all over the place haha”
There has been plenty of planning for this shoot. Something which I think new players don’t actually do enough of. This shoot had been rehearsed a couple of days before, which was evident by the tape with references to lighting setups stuck all over the studio floor.
While some shots had fairly easy lighting setups others were a little more difficult. At one stage I counted 7 lights, 2 of which had coloured gels. They also flooded the studio floor and filled the space with fog, so getting everything right was a feat of wizardry.
Many would think, well if I can get the lighting right in one shot, the fog in another (fog doesn’t necessarily go the way you want it to) and then get the models right in the next I can just merge the three photos together.
That’s not the case with the Dhyan & Benjamin photography duo. They like to get things right in camera, then enhance later on.
Overall the shooting experience was fun, energetic and by the end of it Dhyan and Benjamin managed to make some magic. So perhaps the Facebook page bio “basically we need to be described as wizards”, on this occasion rings true.
I have no doubt that we’ll be seeing a lot more from Dhyan and Benjamin over the next couple of months and years.
Tristan’s note – The photos in this article are previous work shot by Dhyan and Benjamin. Unfortunately the shots from the shoot I witnessed have not gone to print yet so I was unable to share them with you. There was a BTS video being shot on the day so I’m sure they guys will keep me in the loop as to when that is released and I will share it with you all.